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Julia Haworth

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Julia Haworth
It’s been a stressful few weeks for Coronation Street’s Claire and Ashley Peacock and this week is no different.

Ashley finally learns of his wife’s deceit when her mother, Yvonne, strolls into the butcher’s to give him the shock of his life.

Claire has been disappearing regularly on the pretext of visiting her mother who, she claims, is bedridden and suffering from cancer.

Friday’s episode (Sep 15) sees Ashley trick Claire into going to the hospital, supposedly to check Claire’s suspicions that baby Thomas isn’t actually theirs. Instead, they head to the psychiatric department where Claire is finally sectioned.

What’s it been like for the key player in this latest drama to hit the Cobbles? And more importantly, how has actress Julia Howarth portrayed the condition so convincingly?

Digital Spy caught up with the lady in question after a hectic day’s filming in Manchester.

Claire's behaviour is becoming increasingly erratic and this week we finally learn of her deceit towards Ashley. Do you think she feels guilty for deceiving her husband at all or does she not realise?
"By this point Claire is on planet Claire, that's what I like to call it. So I think feelings of guilt that she's deceiving Ashley and that her mum's not actually dying, I don't think they come into her head. She's just not thinking rationally."

Do you think Claire's relationship with baby Thomas has been affected by her relationship with mum, Yvonne?
"There is mention of that in the scripts and there's a scene where Yvonne's saying 'you don't necessarily bond with your children' and Claire says 'what, like me and you?' I don't think that really has any bearing on it. I do think that this post-natal mania which Claire is suffering from is a mental illness and boils down to just needing some mental help. I don't really think it stems from the relationship with her mum"

Friday sees the current phase of the storyline come to a head when Claire is finally sectioned and we learn that she's suffering from post-natal depression. What was your initial reaction to this particular storyline?
"I was delighted with it because I've been in the show for three-and-a-half years and this seemed like the storyline I could finally get my teeth into and show the different sides to Claire. I do believe she is a multi-faceted person whereas a lot of people just say 'I think she's a bit dull, a bit boring and a bit nice', so this was a chance to say 'well no, she's a lot more complex than you take her for'."

Did you think it was going to be a little difficult to portray the condition convincingly?
"No, because I'd done a lot of research. As soon as I'd got wind that this was going to be the storyline, I got straight in there and started researching and I thought 'I can do this'.

Where does it all go from here? Do we start to see Claire making progress or does this spell the beginning of the end for her and Ashley?
"After Claire is sectioned, she's in hospital for about three or four weeks, obviously receiving psychiatric help. And then she comes out and it's Bev and Fred's wedding and the sad news of Fred's death, so there's a lot more upset in Claire's life to come than what's happening at the moment. But I truly believe with Claire and Ashley that what doesn't kill them only makes them stronger. I really do think that they're a solid couple and they can get through whatever life throws at them. They're probably the only couple in the Street I can say that about."

What's it been like filming the aftermath of Fred's death?
"We film the funeral next week, but I can say that John Savident has filmed his last scenes which is probably why I sound a little bit distant because that was very upsetting, as it is when you work with someone so closely for three-and-a-half-years playing their daughter-in-law. He's been a great guy to have around. His CV's as long as the M25 so you've really got to take advice from people like that - guidance on set and things like that. There's years of experience there. It's a sad afternoon."

What's it like working with Steven Arnold?
“It's a hoot [laughs]. Steve is a scream. The hardest thing with working with him is not laughing. That really is the hardest thing.”

You've been in Corrie for over three years now. How long do you see yourself staying with the programme?
"I class myself as an actress that goes from job to job. I started doing television when I was 13 years old and hopefully I'll be doing it well into old age. I've always just seen this as one job in a career of many jobs, hopefully. But I'm really enjoying myself here and there's a great team of people. We've got brilliant writers. So for the time being, I'm very happy here."

You got married recently, I recall. How's married life suiting you?
“It's brilliant - it's the best thing ever!”

Do you have plans for any family of your own?
"Eventually. There's no rush for that, though. Working with 10 babies playing baby Thomas – we've had five sets of twins – has made me realise that it's very hard!"

Do you manage to catch Coronation Street when you're at home?
"The wonders of Sky+ enable me to keep it all there and watch it when I have spare moments."

Do you have any other favourite programmes?
"Property Ladder - Sarah Beeny, what an idol."

Thanks for taking time to chat with us, Julia! Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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